Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Great Gift Ideas for People Who Love Guinea Pigs

 FTC disclaimer:  Some of the links in this post are affiliates and I may earn a small commission if you click through them.

People often want to get me guinea pig themed gifts, but I have loved guinea pigs since I was about 8 years old.  So it's harder to find things that I don't already have that I would enjoy.  If you want to read about gifts to GIVE guinea pigs, please click here as I also have a blog post on that!

Here are some ideas that would make almost any guinea pig enthusiast "wheek" with joy.

We'll start off with one for the younger crowd -- Live Little Pets Mama Surprise Guinea Pig

While Crayola calls their Scribble Scrubbie a hamster, it really is a guinea pig.

Piggy Parodies has a great coloring book where they put guinea pigs in famous movie posters.

A subscription to Guinea Pig Magazine

Eat, Sleep, Guinea Pigs T-Shirt

Guinea Pig Soap Company sign for the bathroom

A guinea pig "candy" jar, perfect for holding their guinea pigs' cookies

Tell Your Guinea Pig I said Hi decal for their car

A package of 200 guinea pig stickers

Guinea Pigs in Space on Pizza Jigsaw Puzzle 

Guinea Pig Socks

Remember Harry the Dog books from your childhood?  Well he's back with the neighbor in Harry and the Guinea Pig

A Woman Cannot Survive on Wine Alone - She Needs A Guinea Pig coffee mug

A guinea pig wall clock made from a real record

Guinea Pig Salt and Pepper Shakers

Animal Planet Grow Set that includes a Guinea pig

Guinea Pig diamond painting

Tee Shirt design of a guinea pig made from "bean gifts" -- a guinea pig owner will get the humor in this!

Old World Christmas Guinea Pig Ornament

Just a girl Who Loves Guinea Pig Throw pillow Cover  note, you will have to get the pillow as well

Guinea pig "Wheek Squad" cooking apron

"Nerdy" Guinea Pig Cross Shoulder Bag

We Came, We Saw, We Pooped Everywhere Pop socket

Guinea Pig Shoe Charm for Crocs

Guinea Pig Earrings 

Edwardian Guinea Pig Portrait Necklace

Guinea Pig Leggings

Fill a Guinea Pig stocking with candy!

The Guinea Pig Classics -- Classic books like Romeo and Juliet and Pride and Prejudice with guinea pigs telling the stories.

Guinea Pig journal / blank book / notebook

Guinea Pig Duvet

A Guinea Pig Onesie for adults

Guinea Pig Cookie Cutter(s)

Calico Critters Paddy and Paden's Double Stroller set (THRE toy guinea pigs!)

Guinea Pig parents LOVE stuff for their guinea pig.  If you sew, check out the book Sewing For Your Guinea Pig and if you don't sew, check out my list of great gifts for guinea pigs by clicking here.

Finally, check out my guinea pig's autobiography, Almost a Bunny.  Aimed at ages 7-9 she discusses guinea pig care, being a good friend, wanting to be good and then being naughty instead, and being a good loser.  

Gift Ideas for GUINEA PIGS

 FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links and I may receive a small compensation if you make a purchase through them at no additional cost to you.

I have had guinea pigs most of my life.  I got my first guinea pig when I was 8.  I poured through a "Pets for Kids" book and decided I wanted a guinea pig.  I was too young to know much about them, but thankfully Tilly was pretty healthy despite our not knowing much about them.

I have found through the years that people have wanted to give a small gift to my guinea pigs at the holidays and don't know where to begin.  Often times, they rely on what pet stores and companies market to guinea pigs, but unfortunately those are not always the best things for a guinea pig.  For instance, an exercise ball can cause a guinea pig to break its back!  Guinea pigs don't have the flexibility that, say, a ferret has, and therefor these can cause harm.  Other places market seed treats, and one time my mother didn't want to offend family who got one of these and fed one of these treats to her guinea pig.  It bit me (which is something that guinea pigs don't usually do) when I had to extract a seed from its mouth that it had impaled through his bottom teeth.  Other treats may have too much sugar, and I have even seen sponges being marketed as chew toys.  Would you want to eat a sponge?  I know I wouldn't, and guinea pigs who snack on these can need surgery as it will often just stay in the stomach. 

I know you want to give SAFE  treats to a guinea pig, and make sure it stays healthy, so here are some ideas.  

Gifts for guinea pigs come in three categories:  Food / treats, Toys, and Cage Accessories.

Food / Treats

I am pretty brand loyal when it comes to snacks and food for my guinea pigs, because I want them to be as healthy as possible.

I feed my pigs Oxbow Essential Guinea Pig Pellets.  This is what they were fed at the rescue, and although other pellets look fun with colors and such, the "boring" pellets are the healthiest.  Be sure to buy GUINEA PELLETS -- rabbit pellets aren't as nutritionally robust as what guinea pigs need.

Piggies should have a nice supply of hay -- and NOT alfalfa unless they are pregnant or very young because of calcium content.  I like Small Pet Select Second Cutting Timothy Hay   Small Pet Select is a reliable company in my experience.  They also have sampler boxes that also contain oat hay.

Making a stocking from the produce section is always a great idea.  Guinea pigs love romaine lettuce and dandelion greens and corn husks!

One of the treats guinea pigs love is Pea Flakes.  Again, I trust Small Pet Select here.  :) 

Other treats I recommend are:

Oxbow Vitamin C "cookies"

Oxbow Simple Rewards "cookies" (my pigs don't care for the strawberry or banana, but they love all the others)

Another brand I trust is Rosewood Naturals.  Unfortunately they are pricey on Amazon, but you may be able to find them at your local Walmart.  My girls go crazy for forage!

Small Pet Select has a selection of Healthy Snacker Treats

Piggy's Choice One Ingredient Snacks are also reliable in my opinion.

Guinea pigs LOVE wheat grass, so some seeds and a growing tray are also a great option.   Or even a window herb garden with dill and parsley.

While this says for rabbits, it's a hit with my guinea pig as a treat.  It's a cute little timothy and carrot lollipop.  They will eat more than they should, so I have to give it to them during lap time.


Guinea pigs are good with basic toys.  A paper bag with some hay hidden inside or a Happy Meal box can keep a guinea pig entertained.

My girls have and enjoy the Oxbow Enrichment Center -- one note here -- I did cut off the sponge like chews because I wanted to make sure my girls weren't ingesting anything that could be sponge and Oxbow just says it is "all natural"! 

Other chew toys are the Oxbow cupcake and the Oxbow Barrel Roll

A foraging fleece would be fun! 

My Lucky loved his Crinkle Tunnel -- he LOVED noise, and even crinkle dog toys made him happy.

Which takes us to CAGE ACCESSORIES

The #1 thing a guinea pig needs is a cage that is big enough.  Store bought guinea pig cages really don't provide enough room, so I always recommend a Midwest Cage.  You can read how I made my cage here

Guinea pigs love places to hide, and they love their "Strawberry of Safety" as I call it.  :) 

Piggy's Choice has some nice corner hides although the rescue that I work with likes to see guinea pig hides have multiple ways out if there is more than one pig in a cage.  I found a great aerobic step  at Goodwill, but since my HoneyButter lives alone, she loves her tree trunk hideout.  You could also look at the Dollar Store for a child's stool 

I have used guinea pig warming disks in the past, but I prefer self warming pet mats (although these have to be washed OFTEN!)

My HoneyButter is a water bottle connoisseur and she LOVES her glass Lixit Water Bottle

A nice hay bag is always appreciate.  (The hay balls have been known to cause death, so I recommend a hay bag.)

My RedBird is blind, and she loves her StayBowl because she can feel the base of the bowl on her feet before she gets to it and doesn't bump her nose into it like she would with other bowls.

HayPigs have some adorable circus themed guinea pig accessories such as a Veggie Kebob maker, a circus wagon hay hopper , and even a "cannonball" hide tunnel

A foraging Christmas tree is a fun way to serve veggies during the holiday

While not a Cage accessory, I recommend all guinea pigs have a pair of guinea pig nail clippers.

Also, items for a Guinea Pig Emergency Kit  is always a good idea. 

Also, if you sew, check out the book Sewing For Guinea Pigs and create a gift yourself!

I hope this gives you some ideas to make this a safe, happy, and healthy holiday for the cavy on your holiday gift list!  

If you have a guinea pig on your gift list, then I'm sure you have someone who loves guinea pigs on your list as well, so be sure and check out these GIFT IDEAS FOR PEOPLE WHO LOVE GUINEA PIGS!

Monday, June 27, 2022

Is this Giveaway A Scam? Figuring out if a Contest is Legit on Facebook or Instagram

 So how do you know if the giveaway you see posted on Facebook or Instagram is a scam?  One of the first clues is to see if it is the legitimate business running it.

For instance, this is the REAL Disney Parks Facebook page.

What do you notice?  I see a few things:

  • The verified by Facebook checkmark
  • Everything is spelled correctly
  • TONS of people like the page. 
What do you often see when it's not the legit page?

  • There will be no blue checkmark
  • Check spelling.  Many times there will be an extra I or a period in the name, such as Diisney Parks  ~or~ Disney Parks. 
  • The page will often be new with few followers.
The same thing with those giveaways of cars where they will say things like "Our last winner was under 18, so we're doing this again.  Like and share our page for a chance to win.

There will often be no rules.  Florida, New York, Rhode Island, and Quebec have very unique laws regarding sweepstakes and for those giveaways to be open to those states, they would have to be bonded by the attorney general of those states (or Providence).  Also, rules protect the sponsor.  You have to sign wavers if you win a car, trip or RV that if you are in a wreck in the car you won that you will not sue the company that gave you the prize.  If you win a prize of over $599 or an alcohol prize, you will often have to sign paperwork saying you are of the age required to win (21+ for alcohol) and give your social security number for taxes if you won a prize of $600 or more.  Companies DO sent 1099-MISC to the government and your prizes ARE taxable. 

In the same way, if you enter a giveaway on Twitter or Instagram and someone slides into your DMs saying you won, look for the blue check mark.  You NEVER have to click a link or give out credit card information to win a prize.  Chime often gives away great prizes, but once you enter, tons of accounts like Chiime, Prize_Notification_Account, You-Won, and the like will start messaging you and giving you a link to click to "prove your eligibility" (In reality what will happen is likely identity theft and/or draining your bank account.) 

Also, remember you can't win if you don't enter.  I once received a phone call saying I had won a prize.  I asked how I had won, and I was told I used my "Visa, Mastercard, American Express, or Discover".  I was then asked if I had one of those cards.  I said, "If I really won something you could tell me that."  (Of course I knew all of those are different companies and would not have a joint sweepstakes, that would be like McDonalds and Burger King teaming up.). The woman got really mad and said, "I don't have time for this childishness" and hung up on me.  That was the easiest way I ever got rid of a scammer!  :) 

There are thousands of legitimate giveaways out there, and I win several every month and have for the last 20+ years, but be wary of scams.  

Click here to join my FREE Facebook group where I list giveaways.

Also be sure and check out my other similar blog posts:
How to Win Sweepstakes and Contests
How to Win a Skill Contest
How to Win a Voting Contest
How to Win in Twitter Parties
How to Win Blog Giveaways
Where to Find Sweepstakes to Enter
What to do when you win a prize.
Should You Keep the News of Winning a Contest Prize a Secret or Tell Everyone?
Are People who Win Prizes Just Lucky Ducks?
Entering Sweepstakes and Public Assistance Like SSI and and Disability
The Best Books about Entering and Winning Sweepstakes
Are you Pressing the Lever on McDonalds Monopoly?

Sunday, May 22, 2022

20 Ideas for Saving Money on Groceries

Lately I have been hearing a lot of complaints about how expensive food has gotten -- and it has.  I have been a coupon queen for over 30 years (way before it was cool) and here's my 15 tips on how to save money on food.

FTC disclaimer:  The following contains affiliate links.

1. Shop Loss Leaders

Stores will often have sales to draw you in.  I remember the days of 4/$1 boxes of macaroni and cheese, and while those are long gone, you can still find some good sales and while you might have to go to a couple different grocery stores, you can save some money this way.

2. Price Booklet

Back thirty years ago I was telling people they should do this.  Take note of what the cost of your typically purchased groceries are  where you shop regularly.  I often shop at Kroger and Walmart, but Kroger isn't near me so I will want to see if there are cycles to sales. But if I had a Kroger and a Walmart nearby, I would see which generally has the better price on things I would need to buy that week.

3. Eat the Sales

You might plan to have burgers on Monday, pizza on Friday, etc. but if there isn't a good deal on beef that week, then wait until beef is cheaper and eat something that is on sale.

4. Use savings apps.  

I save so much money doing this.  I have more in depth posts about using savings apps, but the ones I usually use are

iBotta -- this one you need to add offers BEFORE you shop
Fetch -- My referral code is NP7PE -- with this one I just scan my receipts after shopping and whatever I get back is pure bonus.  
Receipt Hog -- My referral code is stroh862 -- again I just scan for what I would be purchasing anyway

5. Use store apps

While Walmart doesn't have a store app, Kroger does.  Adding coupons before shopping can really give some significant savings.  Sometimes you can use a coupon up to five times, other times the coupon is only good once.  I also have store apps for Walgreens, Dollar General, and CVS.

6. Food at Dollar Tree

I really think Dollar Tree has upped their game since they went to charing $1.25 per item.  Although lately I've been finding clearanced items for as low as 25 cents for a box of cake mix.  I love their egg rolls.  The frozen ravioli is top notch.  The spring rolls (8 for $1.25) is also a great bargain.  But watch sizing.  Some of the products are smaller than a regular grocery store and may cost more per ounce.

7. Stock Up

If something you use often goes on sale, buy extra.  As I write this, iBotta has  75 cents off a jar of Ragu, up to five times on one receipt.  We eat a lot of spaghetti and ravioli (as I mentioned above).  I have learned that if you use your offer, it sometimes comes back for another use.  So this month I have purchased 15 jars of Ragu for about $1.50 a jar.  

8. Shop Grocery Outlets

Not everyone has a grocery outlet near them, but if you do, see what they have.  Sometimes these are called scratch and dent stores.  You need to watch expiration dates, but many times "best by" dates are just that -- best by and will stay good for a while afterwards.  In fact, one time I ate microwave popcorn with a best by date of six years before -- I really wanted popcorn and it was all I could find in the house.  It tasted fine -- just not as many of the kernals popped. 

9. Forage

Did you know that upscale grocery stores can sell dandelion leaves for over $3 a pound?  Wild onions for $15 a pound.  As long as you don't chemically treat your lawn, add some dandelion leaves to your salad.  My husband made some amazing dandelion jelly this year. 

10. Make it Yourself

It is easy to find bread machines in thrift stores.  It may be cheaper to make the bread yourself.  I know it is for us, and it is so much tastier.  Instead of ordering out for pizza, make your own.  Many foods can be made easily at home.  When I visited friends overseas, I loved her chili seasoning.  I asked her what brand it was, and she said it was her own, and now I always make my own taco and chili seasonings as well as ranch seasoning.

11. Dollar General 

Dollar General is another favorite store of mine.  You can scan items while in store to see if there are coupons on the products you are buying.  Most Saturdays they have a $5 off $25 coupon which can be combines with manufacture coupons in the app (make sure they say manufacture and not store.). Many Saturdays I can walk out of Dollar General with $25 for about $10.  Of course, don't forget to scan your receipts!  Also, seasonings are cheap there, which is great for when I make my yearly chili and taco seasonings.

12. CVS

While CVS is often more expensive on stuff, combining sales, coupons, and their Rewards Pass (which costs $5 a month for a $10 certificate) can make things much cheaper.  Sometimes there is a $5 off $30 of food coupon in the app.  We also get our prescriptions filled there, so we earn Extra Care Bucks from that.  About a month ago I walked out of CVS with $30 of groceries for $5 ($10 if you count the $5 I spent on the Rewards Pass for the month.). Even if you don't live near a CVS, you can get free shipping if you sign up for the Rewards Pass and purchase certain CVS or Gold Emblem items.  I didn't leave the house for almost a year before I got the vaccine and I would get great deals once a month from CVS.

13. Fast Food Apps

Download the apps for the fast food places in your area.  When our local professional hockey team wins, our local McDonalds will have free six piece nuggets with a $1 purchase.  Since my husband and I each have an account, we can order the cheapest thing on the McDonalds menu (2 cookies for $1.19) and each have two cookies and six nuggets for $1.19.  Sometimes they have other deals.  Keep an eye on your apps

14. Enter Sweepstakes

I have a group on Facebook about entering sweepstakes.  It's not a sure fire way to save money on food since sweepstakes are random, but read my blog posts about how to win sweepstakes and contests.  You can check out my group on Facebook.  It's not uncommon for me to win gift certificates or free coupons.  (I have won year's supplies of Lay's potato chips, Totino's Pizza Rolls, Colivita Olive Oil, Kellogg's Cereal, Mrs. T's Pierogies, and more!)  Also, Circle K often has a sweepstakes where you can win small convenience items.  This year I've won slices of pizza, Polar Pops, roller grill items, energy drinks, chips, nuts, and more.  

15. Stretch meat

Meat is expensive.  If you can, use it in recipes where you can add beans to make it stretch.  This is great for taco night, chili, etc.  

16. Garden

My husband and I began a small garden in 2020.  (Who didn't? Ha!). The amount of tomatoes we have been able to get from a package of seeds (purchased at Dollar Tree or Dollar General) is amazing.  Same with cucumbers.  Even if you don't have room for a garden, some herbs on the windowsill are a great idea.  I won a cooking class for my husband and the grandmother teaching it was thrilled he had fresh basil from a plant in a window.

17. Farmer's Market

Not everyone lives in an area where farming is prevalent, but if you do, check out farmer's markets.  Often you can get fresher fruits and vegetables than at the grocery store and at lower prices, too.  Of course, eat what is in season, as that helps save money as well.

18. Canning / Freezing

When my husband made the dandelion jelly, he took his first try at canning -- and in our Instant Pot no less!  We have green tomatoes frozen for enchilada sauce -- we had to harvest them last year as it was about to freeze outside, so he made enchilada sauce to freeze.  I took the red tomatoes and parboiled them and froze them for a dish I enjoy making.  

19. Dry Milk

Before you think, "I would never go that far", Dry milk is great in baking and cooking -- in fact, our bread recipe calls for dry milk.  Nido is our favorite dry milk as it is a whole milk, and not a skim milk like most dry milks.  Once you mix it and chill it, it is hard to tell the difference between store bought milk and Nido.

20. Check Amazon

It sounds odd, but groceries can at times be cheaper at Amazon.  Also, if you are a Prime member and not in a super hurry for something, you can often get $1.50 digital credit if you order 3 items that cost a total of $8.50 or more.  So then I search for groceries, lowest price first, Prime eligible (or you can click this link)

Also, watch for Amazon deals.  I recently had a coupon for $10 off a $20 or more Amazon order if I picked it up locally.  So I went to the general grocery section of Amazon, found stuff I needed, and ordered it for pick up.  I used a gift card I had earned from a savings app, and was going to where the pick up locker was anyway, so it was not an extra trip.  So I ended up getting a dozen cans of tomatoes (great for making tomato soup) for under $4!   I have also been very pleased withe their store brand of items, Happy Belly.  

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Ideas and Suggestions for Caring For Your Guinea Pigs in An Emergency

Emergencies happen, but they are often easier if you are prepared.  Here are a few situations you might encounter and how to handle them.

Family Emergency:   Have someone on hand you can take your guinea pig(s) to at pretty much a moment's notice.  You can offer to do the same for their pets.  Before this is needed, go over your guinea pig's favorite foods, what they can have and can't eat. It might be a good idea to make a folder for each guinea pig you have with all kinds of information in it ready in case you have to hand them off quickly.  That way just a quick phone call and dropping off your furry friend is all that is needed.  When my mother was being admitted to cardiac intensive care, I had 15 minutes to pack and get ready for staying in the hospital for 8 days.  I left a house key in a safe location and called a friend on my way to the hospital.  (I was not driving.)

FTC disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

What happens if you misplace an item you sold on eBay?

FTC disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

I've been selling on eBay for over 23 years.  I try to be very careful, but unfortunately I am human and I make mistakes.  Like the time I accidentally swapped mailing labels and sent the wrong ugly Christmas sweaters to the wrong people.  It was nerve-racking, but thankfully it all turned out okay because the one family got their toddler sized sweater still in time for their holiday photo shoot and I was the only seller online that year that had a dinosaur themed Christmas sweater.

As I write this, my husband is searching for some curtain clips.  We have a great eBay storage set up (which I will talk about in the future.). But for now, I want to talk about what to do and what happens when you can't mail out an item.

I have a large amount of items on eBay.  I try to provide spectacular service, but sometimes it's just not possible.  I might misplace an item, or as happened in July, something broke as it was being packed. 

eBay allows you to have a transaction defect rate of .5% -- that's 1/2 of a percent and still remain "above standard".  For me that's two defects in a year based on my sales for the last 12 months (which I am hoping to increase this next year.)

When you lose an item, it's best to message the buyer and be honest about what happened.  Usually buyers are more understanding than you would think.  But they still could leave you a negative.  However, I will say in 23 years I have received a handful of negatives, but never one when I deserved it.  I've gotten one because someone said my "free shipping" rates were too expensive.  (Huh?), another because I wouldn't accept a check from a foreign country, things like that.

Once you contact the buyer, go into "My eBay" and go to items awaiting shipment.  Beside of the "print shipping label" there is a pull down menu, and from there select "cancel order".  Then on the next page click 'item out of stock'.   This will refund them as well as refund your fees to your account.

This won't prevent you from any repercussions.  You will get a defect on eBay, but provided it's not a normal occurrence and you sell enough, you should be fine.  Otherwise, I would suggest you list a lot of items to get your sales rate higher so it won't affect you much.  I am not sure when everyone's new evaluation day is, they may all be the same or be seller specific.  Mine is on the 20th of the month, and that's when I can see what my current percentage of defect rate is, etc.  

You can still get a negative from the buyer, but I have found that most people are understanding if you explain what happened.  It's obviously annoying to buy something and then have your order cancelled, so work to not make a practice of it.  It's been well over a year since I lost something until this
week.  That time there were two similar items that sold a few months before then.  I shipped the wrong one and the customer never told me.  My current defect is from a Christmas ornament that my husband squeezed too hard thinking it was metal but it was actually plastic and the spoon on the ornament snapped in two!  

But with over 2,000 items listed, I know that things happen.  I hope I don't get a negative, but it's always a possibility.  

I will also likely send the buyer a coupon to use in my eBay store that is specific to them, maybe something like $10 so they could get a totally free item and feel better about the whole situation.

As for me, I'm disappointed.  I like to provide amazing customer service, and losing an item not only means I don't get the money from the sale, but I feel it reflects poorly on me.

Friday, April 8, 2022

Making Credit Cards Work for YOU! Credit Card Hacking Basics

 FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

One of the things I disagree with Dave Ramsey on is credit cards.  He says in The Total Money Makeover that no one ever got rich on credit card rewards, and while that's true, I have had my life enriched by those points and I want to explain the basics of credit card hacking.  If you can't pay of your cards in full each month, stop reading now.  If you do pay off your cards, please proceed.

A few years ago I read a book about maximizing credit card rewards, which is unfortunately now out of print.  One of my takeaways was not to be afraid of an annual fee if you are a heavy credit card user.  I have sold on eBay full time since 1998.  I purchase the things for resell, packing materials,  purchase postage, etc. Until the last couple years eBay charged fees to a credit card, now they take them out of your account before sending you your payout.  So you can see how this could add up to a large amount of spending that would all be deductible on my taxes.

My first credit card with a fee was for a hotel chain I love.  When my mother got sick in 2013, I was able to stay eight days at a hotel near the cardiac intensive care unit without it costing me anything.  I had hoped to take an amazing vacation, but being able to be with her during that time was more important than any vacation to Hawaii, and I don't regret using those points -- I am so thankful I had them to use.

I have collected a whole wallet full of credit cards.  Because different cards will rotate where you get the most points, at the beginning of every quarter (January, April, July, October) I get them out, look at what the bonus categories are for the next three months, and change around which card should be used for what purpose.  I have enough cards (and a husband with a bad memory) that I make things easy by taking a small piece of paper and taping to each card what spending to put on that card.  For instance, I have one for "everyday spending" which is the one that gives me the best rewards.  But, usually one card will have a 5% bonus for gas stations.  Sometimes that is for only at the pump, so I have a "gas station -- inside" designated card.  As I write this, I have designated cards for pharmacies, filling up the car with gas, buying something inside a convenience store, restaurants, travel (sometimes even things like parking and toll roads can count!), Target, Amazon, streaming services (which of course, I can just change that online until the next three months and don't have to have that marked on a card).  This trick of being able to keep track of what card I should use when really helps me not make mistakes and put a 5% reward on a card that only is giving 1% that month. 

I knew last fall I would be making a large purchase (a new MacBook Pro) around Black Friday.  Because I knew this, I went shopping around for the best credit card rewards for me.  (This can vary from person to person.  Some people may want to focus on travel, some on cash back, some on investments -- yes, using your credit card can help you plan for retirement if used correctly!)  Because 2020 and 2021 were such bad years for the economy with so little travel and so much shut down, the rewards were great.  Between my husband and I, we opened three new cards in less than two years, which is unheard of for us.  Also, Chase has a 5/24 rule -- meaning they don't give rewards to you if you have taken out five credit cards in the last 24 months.  So I keep my opening new accounts to a minimum. But the sign up bonuses were amazingly good, and making an almost $2,000 purchase, it was well worth it to find a card to use and get a sign up bonus.

Of course, to do this, you need a good FICO score.  This is often free to check online at your bank's site or on a credit card site.  One thing to keep in mind, cancelling a credit card will often cause your credit score to fall.  So unless you are paying a fee, it's worth it to keep any cards you currently have and use it for a small purchase every 6 months or so.  If you are paying a fee, it may be worth it to close that account if you aren't earning great rewards.  I would love to move in the next few years so I am trying to increase my credit score, so I am not opening any more credit cards and asking for limit increases on the ones I have.  

The higher your credit score the more options you will have available to you as to what cards you will be able to get.  But even with a lower credit score you can earn rewards, just not maybe the same ones that someone with a metal card would be able to earn.  (These are nearly the top of the line cards and yes, they can really be made of metal.) 

In years past, people learned they could order one dollar coins from the U.S. Mint with no shipping fees, put it on their credit card, take the coins to the bank.  The U.S. Mint was wanting people to go out and spend these $1 coins to try and get them to catch on.  What actually caught on was the Mint to the fact that people were buying coins, depositing them, and earning credit card rewards like crazy.  So the Mint put a stop to that.  

Each card is different.  Some allow points for pre-paid Visas purchased at a store to earn points, others don't.  You will need to check with what your card allows and doesn't.

I will be detailing different cards in future posts and telling what I think of them, the pros and cons.  But until then, here are a few things I've been able to do, purchase, and destinations I have visited thanks to using credit cards to my advantage.

  • A two week cross country road trip, and all hotel stays were paid for except for one night.  We even stayed in a $300 a night resort in Sedona.
  • An eight day hotel stay in Pittsburgh when my mother was in CICU.
  • A flight to Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • A flight to Nashville, Tennessee.
  • A flight to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • A flight to New York City.
  • $200 of Christmas gifts
  • A Silhouette Cameo Machine
  • $1,000 put on my credit card for grocery purchases when my husband was out of work for Covid
  • An air fryer both for us and one for my inlaws as a gift.
  • A trip to New Mexico for two with all nights paid for in hotel, plus airport lounge access and rental car.
  • Lots of other small rewards.

Like I said, none of this made me rich, but it sure has enriched my life.  I currently have enough credit card points to stay at a hotel that is hosting a convention this summer that I want to attend, and I have up to 9 nights at other hotels just ready for me to use when I want to travel!  

Check out my other posts about what I think about different credit cards, their rewards, pros and cons:

  • Discover (This is my choice for someone with poor credit, or if you don't want to pay an annual fee)

Thursday, March 31, 2022

What is Receipt Hog? Is it worth signing up?

FTC disclaimer:  This post includes affiliate links. 

Years ago, I joined as many app based savings and earnings communities as I could.  Some have faded away (such as Checkout 51), but others have stayed around and have become my favorites.  One I have on my phone that I don't often talk about is Receipt Hog.

So what is it?  You take photos of your shopping receipts.  you earn coins you can spend.  Why do I not talk about it that often?  I have never won one of the 'daily shopping sprees" and have earned under $20 in Amazon gift cards.  When you snap a receipt you earn coins or spins on a slot machine.  On the slot machine you can win coins (I often win 2-5 coins), cash, or the purchase price of  your receipt back.  Also, you get entered into a sweepstakes that happens on the first of the next month.

I've not earned a lot with this one.  Is it worth it?  Well, I still snap my receipts when I have a shorter one.  When it's massively long, I don't bother.  I have been using it long enough I get a decent amount of bonus coins to make one snap a shorter receipt once a week worth it.  (You level up by submitting receipts each week.) 

Is it one I would join again?  Probably not.  Will I keep doing it.  Yes.  I know this sounds like opposing viewpoints in one, but it doesn't take much to use it each week, but the rewards just aren't easily obtained.

If you want to join, you can find it in the App Store or on Google Play.  If you use referral code stroh862 you will get five bonus spins when you sign up.

Friday, March 11, 2022

Where are the best places to find items to sell on eBay?

 I've been selling on eBay for over twenty years now.  I often get asked "Where do you find your items?"  So I'm going to be talking about places you can get items to sell on eBay, Etsy, Poshmark, and Mecari.  These are in no particular order.

1. Your Home

Most people have clothes they no longer wear, books they have read, games that no longer get played.  When first starting out, this is what I recommend because you will have listing limits, and it allows you to get a little experience without any risk or cost of goods sold when you sell items you no longer want.

2. Yard sales / Garage Sales

I sourced almost exclusively from yard sales for a number of years.  I personally have found that fundraising sales often have the best prices because the people selling the stuff aren't personally attached to the items.  A t-shirt Great-Aunt Maude brought back from Cancun often costs more at a yard sale if the seller remembers Great Aunt Maude fondly.  Where I live, it rains.  A lot.  All summer.  Because I don't like to be wet, I don't go to many sales anymore, and when I do they tend to be charity ones.

3.  Retail Stores

This is known as "retail arbitrage".  Buying something and selling it for more.  Closeout stores are often a great place to do this.  Sometimes things get discontinued or are hard to find.  I paid for my entire trip to a weight loss camp by selling limited edition Lay's potato chips at a markup.  I made a couple hundred when the coated aspirin "Ascriptin" was discontinued but I found several at a store near me.  Your profits are often smaller than if you source other routes, but it always depends on the product.

6. Bin Stores

These are stores filled with Amazon returns and closeouts.  Prices often vary from one day to the next, the highest prices on days they restock.  I know several people who source mainly from these.

7. Pallet liquidation

This is where you buy a pallet of Amazon returns.  I have heard of varied results on this.  I have not tried it.

8. Create Your Own Product

This isn't exactly what most people who sell on eBay want to do, but if you craft, it's a possibility.

9. Thrift Stores

This is one of my favorite places to source.  Of course, I live in a low cost of living area and thrift stores around me show this.  Most don't care if you resell or not, at least where I live.  I used to be shy about getting out my phone and researching in store, but no longer -- I have my phone out a lot unless something is cheap enough I don't mind losing the purchase price.  Books are something I almost always scan if they have a barcode, and I at least look them up if it's something without a barcode.

10. Online

If you watch, you can often find deals on one site to sell on another.  Some people do well with this, but personally I think it takes too much time.

11.  Goodwill Outlets

I know what you're thinking.  "But Goodwill is a thrift store."  True.  But I consider Outlet shopping a whole different breed of puppy.  Everything is sold by the pound, with a few exceptions -- books are usually individually, ceramic and glassware is usually a low fixed priced.  Nothing is sorted.  You need to dig.  You might find garbage (I once found a urine specimen.) or you might find treasure (same Outlet I found the urine specimen, someone found a World Series baseball bat that sold online for a quarter of a million dollars.  This is, when spending money, the most bang for your buck.  The outlets vary from region to region.  Some places they are dirty and icky, other places they are fantastic.  Some allow children on the sales floor, others make them wait outside an area at the end of the aisles on their parents.  I've been in outlets in almost a dozen states, and have seen good and bad stores.  I usually spend $30 - $40 each time I go to one.  Your milage will vary depending on where you live, but as for me, this is the main place I get items for resell.  

Monday, February 21, 2022

Can You Earn a Full Time Living Selling on eBay?

 FTC disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Recently I was asked about if you can earn a full time living selling on eBay or if it was too late to get in on it, and I decided to answer that question here.

The quick and easy answer is:  Yes, you can!  However, there's a few things to know.

It is a LOT of work.  I mean a lot.  Especially if you are first starting out.  Your listing limits will be small, and there's no way you can make a living selling 10 things a month until your limits are raised.  So this is something you will need to ease into -- and start getting used to.  

When I first started selling, there were no fixed priced listings, so I had seven boxes, and I would put stuff in each box as I listed it each day.  I have always loved "smalls" -- tiny items that are easy to ship, so this worked well for me.  About nine years ago I switched to almost all fixed priced listings.  I currently have over 2500 items with about two thousand DIFFERENT listings.  That's a lot of storage space.  I am always trying to figure out the best use of space for storage.  I have different types of shelves for storage, such as bookcases for books, and for things that can be stored in 20 gallon tubs, I have invested in two of these units that store one dozen rubbermaid tubs where I can just slide out the tub needed.  I have all my tubs labeled based on items I sell, such as 'plush', 'craft kits', 'Christmas ornaments', etc. to make it easy to find things.  For very small items, I like using hanging jewelry organizers.  That way I can see through the plastic to find the item quickly when it sells.

I also have two storage units.  While some people use a storage unit for stuff that is listed, I currently use it for what some eBay sellers call their "death pile" or "money pile" -- meaning the treasures I have sourced and need to list.  This can get expensive, though, so I would recommend that you try and list as you source. 

There is a LOT of time involved.  Everything from finding items to sell, research, writing descriptions, photographing, storage, packing, and shipping will be done by you until you start making enough to hire some of this out.  Also, don't forget customer service -- everything from complaints about how much the post office charges for shipping to questions if a certain person is in a yearbook.

Learning about what sells is another time consuming activity.  While the YouTuber "Daily Refinement" suggests staying in one niche (he does clothes), that isn't always possible for everyone.  I live over 20 minutes from the closest stoplight, and there is no way I could depend on thrift stores in my area to provide enough of one type of item for me to sell.  While he suggests finding people who will source for you, I'd rather do that myself.  So I watch a lot of YouTube to see what others sell.  I watch a number of people, but I particularly enjoy "Bolo Buddies", "The Rebel Reseller",  and "Prison2Profit".

Another thing to consider when selling on eBay is taxes.  There have been people all upset that eBay is going to start sending a 1099-K this year when you reach $600 in sales/shipping.  But the fact is, everyone should have been paying taxes on their profits the whole time.   I have an accountant and while I was hesitant to spend the money for a few years, she has helped me save so much that it's well worth hiring her each year.  Remember things like shipping supplies, your postage scale, milage while finding items to sell, the cost of those items, eBay fees (which are high), and even a home office can be deducted.  

My husband hasn't worked since October, and we've been having a rough go of it financially lately.  Things were getting bad for him at work due to him having to switch meds, and he needed to leave that environment for a while.  What he didn't count on was how much work eBay is.  Also, since I was already getting deductions for things like the home office, that cannot be doubled, and he has to work harder to make the same amount as I had been.  Ideally, he wouldn't have quit his job until he could prove to himself that he was capable of brining home what he was making working outside the home by doing this in his spare time.  Unfortunately he didn't have that luxury, and it's been a bit difficult especially since he has been having trouble with meds (as have I) since we switched insurance.

So, yes, you can still make a full time living on eBay.  It is a lot of work, a lot of learning, planning, and LOTS of shipping.  There is an old meme about what people think eBay sellers do, and what they really do, and the "what I really do" is a man surrounded by shipping boxes.  That's about the sum total of it.  

There's so much to learn about selling, and I learn something new almost daily.  But for now, I invite you to check out my articles about making money online.  

Friday, January 28, 2022

The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio Read Along. Chapter One

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

This is a new series.  A friend and I are reading through The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio by Terry Ryan and I am adapting my thoughts on the book here for everyone.

The book opens and there is no shortage of jingles.  I don't really get why a lot of them won.  I think this encouraged me big time when I was just beginning to enter contests and sweepstakes because I read some of these entries and I was just dumbfounded at things that won.  I realize that some expressions are now just archaic, like rhyming I'd with denied, but some I just cant' make hide nor hair of why they won.  I expect that is was just part of the era, as I'd hear my mother sometime make similar rhymes, but for my mind, now in the 21st century, I'm a bit confused as to why they won.  She was certainly talented, but I always think, "What is the company wanting?" and I can't imagine companies wanting some of these today.  Still, she was certainly talented and it very much worked for her, so I can't criticize too much.  

The coding of entries was brilliant for ones that you could enter multiple times.  However, if it was one entry per person, it was technically against the rules, but I understand why she did it if she did break the rules.  I mean, this was her only income to feed 10 kids.  

$10 ($103 today according to historical currency conversions) for a sexist jingle about Dial soap.  I mean, it's cute, but I don't think it's anything that special.

A couple off the top of my head entries:

I'm glad I use Dial, 
My hubby too,
For smells won't come near,
and neither Covid Mu.

(Okay, so that was bad and Mu is history, but. . )

I'm glad I use Dial, the golden bar is worth its weight by keeping me smelling fresh all day.

I'm glad I use Dial, gold, white, or spring water, keeps me smelling fresh, same with my daughter.  

Again, these are just first thoughts and I'd likely throw them out and work more.  Rule #1 is always "What's good for the company".  I think "What do the judges want to see?" then start from there.  Dial.  What are the reasons the judges want to hear you use Dial?  Freshness, cleanness, antibacterial properties.  Dial brings up pictures of flowers, showers, health, refreshing showers of a morning,  Then I think what might I be able to rhyme.  I have a rhyming dictionary, but usually I'll just sit and rhyme through the alphabet. 

Dial.  Bile. Kyle. File. Gile, Hile, Jile, Lyle, Mile, Nile, Pile, Rile, Sile, Tile, Yile, Zile, Chile, Shile, Plile, strile, style, while, 

Then I might pull out the words that might be useable.  File, Style, While, 

I'm glad I use Dial,
Keeps me fresh all the while,
I'm at school, work, or play,
Keep me clean through the day,
and the price is just my style.

(See how that's a bit better than the ones above?)

I had to laugh at "Hmm! Wonder what This Is" poem.  Reminds me of my days  of refunding.  I literally had an entire room filled with proofs of purchases.  In December 1993 or 1994 I was given a 30 year stash. Sometimes I would take labels off cans or remove them from boxes if I was needing to complete an offer quickly.  I sure am glad for savings apps now and not having to play dinner roulette and wonder if you are opening a can of green beans or sauerkraut.  

Also, it is still legal to require a proof of purchase for a skill contest, but not a sweepstakes.  

On page 25 she mentions a great thing to keep in mind -- who is it being marketed to -- such as you don't want to mention kids in an alcohol entry (unless you say something like both you and baby need a bottle at 2 AM, just with different refreshments -- even then I'd be cautious).  

I do remind myself reading her entries that it was a different era.  What was clever then makes people 70 years later wonder what on earth she was talking about.  There was a cuteness and charm to the 1950s, a whitewashed look where all faces were scrubbed and hid the pain just behind the surface.  But sometimes exaggerations or plain out lies help win.  Making an entry seem like every other entry, then leaving the judge laughing has worked for me.  Timing is something I consider, too.  An essay / video needs to be interesting enough at the beginning to keep you watching, but personally I like to think of it as a joke.  You want the punch line last.

Stay tuned for Prize Winner Chapter 2 Read along, and in the meantime, feel free to read all my blog posts on Sweepstakes and contests.

Friday, January 7, 2022

What is Fetch Rewards? Is it worth it?

 Very few people see their smartphone as a savings tool.  But that is how I view my device.  Why?  Savings apps.  I have several, and snap receipts from different places, but the one I want to talk about today is Fetch.

Savings apps are just that -- savings.  You won't get rich from them because you are getting something that you paid refunded to you.  But they can help you save on your grocery bill and help you out with saving for something special, be it Christmas gifts, a Disney trip, or just back to school shopping.  And good news, you can earn rewards from those purchases as well when you use Fetch!

With some savings apps, you have to go into the app before you go to the store,  add offers, see what the limit is etc.

The best thing about Fetch is you just snap your receipt after you are done shopping.  Really!  Usually most brands get you about the value of 1% back in points.  BUT most receipts will give you 25 points.  That's about 2 1/2 cents.  That's not a lot, but then there are times you find something you will use a lot of on sale, and you might earn quite a few points on those receipts.

ANY receipt works.  Fast food, grocery store, home improvement store.  Plus, there is a feature when you download the app where you can attach your e-mail for them to check for Amazon receipts.  

Another thing I like to do is see what the "pop up offers" are.  While these are things I have to remember to look for, and living in a rural area like I do, my stores may not have it.  Sometimes the pop up offers are for 100% of your purchase price back in points.  A few things I've gotten totally free are certain types of bread, Reese's Klondikes, Back the Roots growing kits (which my guinea pigs loved having some fresh sprouts!) 

I don't look at apps as a way to get rich, but I did cash out about $50 of rewards from Fetch last year.  That's a Christmas gift.  Or my phone bill for one month. Just from snapping receipts that I would have otherwise thrown away.  Of course a number of these came from offers I got totally free, but sure, I can eat a certain kind of bread that week to get the purchase price back.  

If you download Fetch Rewards on the Google Play or App store and use my code of NP7PE you will have an extra $3 put into your account and I will have $2 put in mine.  

Bottom line:  Fetch Rewards is a must have savings apps because all you have to do is snap receipts.  No adding offers to your account before shopping, and all receipts are accepted.